South Africa, Tasmania, Australia, New Zealand
October 31st, 1890
East London, South Africa
My Beloved Henry,
I wrote you a few lines by the last mail from Port Elizabeth and now redeem my promise to write again. My home letter after arrival at Cape Town will have acquainted you with the reception I met with from the brethren there to whom I presented letters of commendation from Mr McAdam, Mr Shapland and one from Mr Pollock written three years ago in Canada. Although my sympathies were with Mr Lowe and others at Ealing who had refused the evil, yet we did not at Ilfracombe formally announce from the Lord's table anything beyond the fact that we could not receive Mr R's teaching as being according to the word of God but for the moment no ecclesiastical question was raised. After this was clearly stated by Mr Shapland the letters of commendation from Tunbridge Wells and Plaistow were read and those commended broke bread and as you know were in their own spirits clear of the evil. At the time of my leaving neither had St Leonard's acted or I should not as a matter of common honesty have presented Mr McAdam's letter at Cape Town. During my months stay there however tidings of their action at St Leonard's was received at Cape Town and on leaving there Mr Elliott gave me unsolicited a letter of commendation signed by himself and another brother. The gathering at Cape Town were in a very low state spiritually having I judge been nursed into weakness and local troubles had sprung up, many of which were cases perhaps needing only a pastoral visit and care, but brought into the assembly and made grave matters as needing the extreme of discipline. It would have been an easy matter to have broke up outwardly seeing that the only inward bond of love was already gone. Since however the grace of God has revealed to my soul the ground of the Church of God, I could see how destructive to all that was Divine was anything of a party spirit and although earnestly solicited by one brother (H. Mackenzie) to take up the trouble at home I refused to do so and keeping clear of local cases I kept on night after night ministering the good according to the ability God had given. This the Lord was pleased to manifest his gracious approval of so that hearts were drawn nearer to Himself and to one another. The morning I left Cape Town by an early train 12 or 13 of the leading brethren came from various parts to give a greeting and you may well suppose what a cheer this was to my heart. They are naturally very much attached to Dr Glenny who brought them the truth and whose walk and conversation commended to their consciences the truth he preached to them. On my way up the country I visited most of the gatherings as far as Kimberley and on returning to the coast spent a few days at Seaham where there are about 30 breaking bread on my way to Port Elizabeth where there is a nice meeting about 80 in number. During my stay there I visited Uitenhage and Graaf-Reinet about 30 in fellowship at the former place and at the latter a brother and his wife [footnote – "a daughter of John Arnett of Edinburgh"] called Bruce recently arriving here from Edinburgh. They know you very well and had wondered before I came if we were related. Well through the Lord's mercy I have never known more blessed fellowship in my life than the Lord has granted us in South Africa – leading brethren in all the meetings had heard of the trouble at home and to them in private conversation I always expressed what I feel about Mr Raven's teaching.
Many brethren had heard a reference to it from Dr. Glennie's own lips before his departure for New Zealand, especially distinguishing, or seeking to do so, between new birth and eternal life but they had refused it and now in writing to them he makes no reference to the matter. A letter was received from him two days before I left Port Elizabeth by a brother there, which was silent as to the whole question. I mentioned in my last that I had given Mr Ord's pamphlet to one of the leading brethren there who was so concerned about the evil now so clearly manifested, that he desired nearly all the brethren at Uitenhage also, three of whom came over. They read it among themselves making their own comments as they went on and there was but one feeling of thankfulness in every heart for the great mercy of God to His Beloved saints that the evil of the whole thing had been manifested in such a distinct way that the simplest soul need not now be in doubt as to its serious character. They have sent the paper to Mr Elliott for the Cape Town brethren explaining the judgement that have all arrived at, that for the present they would not receive any coming from England. I asked how this would affect me, to which they replied that they consider I had left England before its evil character had been fully manifested and so they were quite happy I should continue to present the Cape Town letter. Of course I had to tell them that if after perusing Mr Ord's paper, Cape Town held with Greenwich I certainly should not be free to present their letter to any. They have promised to write to Durban (Port Natal) informing me of the nature of the reply they receive, Through mercy I am not careful for myself as to the unity of brethren - I am concerned and thank God for it to be endeavouring to keep the unity of the spirit, assured that the centre and power of this unity is that Blessed Saviour our Lord Jesus Christ whose person and glory has been so terribly insulted and dishonoured in this wretched system for which Mr Raven is not solely responsible. I know God will take care of me even if I must go to prison for a time, I shall be happier there with Him than in a company who can tolerate such fearful blasphemy against His Holy precious name. But God will surely yet deliver many who have been ensnared and who have never suspected the evil behind this vaunted heavenly truth. F.E.R.'s letters to Mr Barker shew that he is an arch-deceiver. Mrs Wilkin's question "Have all believer's Eternal Life?" Which he answers – "Yes!" Is the proof for to Mr. Barker who puts the same question a little more closely he replies that it is not imparted (I think they are his words). He may well say so for according to his theory it is nothing to impart – only a sphere and the blessedness &c. It would be just as great folly to say that Adam could have enjoyed the sphere of Eden and the Trees which the Lord had planted without eyes to see it all and in the same way how could I (as a believer) enjoy Eternal Life in its sphere where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God apart from the new nature or the Eternal Life which God has given in His grace to us. And when given to us, given not to look inwardly upon ourselves but upon the blessed Son of God our Lord Jesus Christ in whom God displays to our souls the divine character of that Eternal Life – could any words be plainer than those the Holy Ghost has given making known this truth to us – "When Christ who is our Life." How simple and how perfect that this we learn of the divine character of that life received when born of the spirit and sealed by the object God displays to our souls and for our faith – Jesus Himself the giver and Himself the food of the life He gives and His Eternal Love made known to heart and conscience in doing this. Lifted up to settle the question of our guilt and sin – tasting death for everything – raised up from among the dead to give Eternal Life to as many as the Father hath given Him.
I have received a long letter from dear Major Jacob whom I grieve to say has gone with Raven, but I am assured his pure mind never suspects what is behind it. He appears to have received it through looking at his Englishman's Greek Concordance giving the meaning of the word life. I have written to him promising to send a copy of Mr Ord's paper with an entreaty to read and weigh its contents.
I am thankful to hear of dear Mr Pollock and Captain Barton being clear of this evil – the latter especially whose action will surely have a voice for God to the West of England meetings – the brethren at Port Elizabeth felt that Mr Lowe and others had increased the difficulty for them at a distance by spreading another Table, but they now understood the serious nature of the error they have been refusing.
Will you please post Mr Ord's Pamphlet to the addresses given on the enclosed list for which I will pay you. God grant that it may deliver thousands.
I have enjoyed the travelling in this country – the climate is very fine and so far as our business is conceived it is the best market I have seen in the world. If I had known its character I should have arranged to spend a year in it and think it just possible I may return here again after visiting Australia and New Zealand. It is no good for your business – all the furniture imported or made on the spot is what you would call very inferior and even that is very dear because of high duties and freight and expensive labour. The largest house in your way at Port Elizabeth looked through your book but remarked that it was all too good for South Africa.
I shall be thankful to hear from you week by week if not taxing you too much – my address until further notice will be Post Office, Durban, Natal.
If I had addresses I should send Mr Ord's paper to Australia and New Zealand. Should you be able to get addresses I will gladly pay the cost of pamphlet and postage.
Trust you are keeping in good health – much love to dear Zoe and yourself and all the beloved brethren with you in England. Believe me my beloved Henry.
Your affectionate Brother,